By M.L. Dehm HBJ Freelance Writer
EVERETT — On April 28, Mayor Ray Stephanson officially welcomed Everett Floral and Gift back to the business community. The shop that has been a part of Everett for more than two decades was closed for almost nine months in order to repair the damage caused by arson on Aug. 6.
It has been a long and difficult period for business owners Ernie and Cindy Frederickson, and they are grateful for all the help that they received. But a lot of bad memories are with them permanently, especially those memories of the day they heard the news.
Ernie Frederickson said he knew something was wrong the minute his cell phone rang at just after 3 in the morning last summer. It was the police calling to tell him his business was on fire.
Fredrickson didn’t stop to wake his wife. He dressed hurriedly and was at the shop within the hour. Cindy Frederickson said she awoke at 6 a.m. that day with a distinct feeling that something was wrong. For a start, Ernie wasn’t there. When she reached him by phone, he tried to break the news gently by describing the fire as “little,” but it wasn’t.
The whole back third of the 1,000-square-foot building was gutted. Almost all of the contents, including their inventory, was either lost or damaged beyond repair. The only good news was that Elvis the shop cat had escaped the blaze.
“It was just sad and so senseless,” Cindy Frederickson said.
Their insurance adjuster, George Gombasy of Liberty Mutual, was on the scene that same morning to guide them through the confusion of regrouping. Friends and customers kept coming by to offer condolences. There were questions from the police, the city and insurance investigators.
Arson was strongly suspected from the start. A Dumpster two blocks away had been torched at about the same time and someone left fresh graffiti at the scene. That gave detectives a good idea of where to begin looking. It wasn’t long before they had a suspect in custody.
But it was an unpleasant shock to discover that the person who had taken away the Frederickson’s livelihood and security was a 15-year-old boy who been in trouble for damaging other properties in the past.
“He had no idea of the consequences and what it meant to others,” Cindy Frederickson said.
And it meant even more to the couple than the loss of income and the inability to serve their customers. Their son was getting married two weeks after the fire and they were supposed to do the flowers for his wedding. At first it looked like the unthinkable would happen and they would have to hire an outside florist to handle an event that was very close to their hearts.
Fortunately, local businesses stepped in to help. Flowers by Adrian let the Fredericksons arrange the flowers for their son’s wedding at their store on Colby Avenue. North Creek Florist and Flowers by Adrian helped to handle orders for Everett Floral customers.
Mikie’s, the popular Evergreen Way burger joint next to Everett Floral, offered ongoing support and a place for the Fredericksons to sit down with contractors, Cindy Frederickson said. Their contractor, Tursuli Construction, took special care of their project.
The Fredericksons have nothing but kind words for the Everett Police Department and in particular for Detective Mike Atwood. Everett police went above and beyond expectations, they said, keeping them informed and patiently answering questions.
There is never a good time for something like this happen, Cindy Frederickson said, but to have it happen in the middle of a shaky economy and before their busiest season of the year made it harder. Now the Fredericksons are gearing up Mother’s Day, one of the biggest floral holidays of the year. They’ve gone from waiting to battle-stations-ready to meet the demand.
The Fredericksons’ main concern now is making sure customers know that they’re open again. They also have the satisfaction of knowing how many people in the community, especially the local business community, really care.
Everett Floral and Gift is located at 4522 Evergreen Way, Everett. Learn more at www.everettfloralandgift.com.